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Thread: Senate Investigators May Have Found a Missing Piece in the Russia Probe

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    Senate Investigators May Have Found a Missing Piece in the Russia Probe

    Senate Investigators May Have Found a Missing Piece in the Russia Probe

    An ex-congressman has alleged ties to the Trump campaign, as well as powerful figures in Russia and Ukraine. Finding out what he knows is crucial, a top Democrat in the Senate says.

    Curt Weldon, a Republican and former Pennsylvania congressman, lost his re-election campaign more than a decade ago following an FBI probe into his ties to two Russian companies. He has “connections to both Russia and the Trump campaign” that are raising suspicions among senators, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said. Feinstein is the committee’s ranking member, and wants to interview Weldon, the spokeswoman said.

    The reasons for the committee’s interest in Weldon are murky, but his ties to Russia are significant. Members of Congress believe, for example, that Weldon may lead to answers about why the Trump administration sought to lift sanctions on Russia in the aftermath of the 2016 election despite a public statement by intelligence agencies that the Kremlin tried to help Trump win. Weldon may also have information about the role a Russian oligarch may have played in trying to influence the Trump administration—though Weldon denied this when I asked him about it.
    The New York Times has reported that Cohen and Vekselberg met 11 days before Trump’s inauguration, and discussed U.S.–Russia relations. Columbus Nova acknowledged in a statement that it hired Cohen “after the inauguration” for consulting work, but insisted that Vekselberg had nothing to do with it. “Columbus Nova itself is not now, and has never been, owned by any foreign entity or person including Viktor Vekselberg or the Renova Group,” the statement read. Columbus Nova did not mention in the statement that its president, Andrew Intrater, is Vekselberg’s cousin. The company did acknowledge it had hired Cohen as a “business consultant.”

    According to the BBC, Cohen has in the past leveraged his relationship with the president to land a lucrative deal with a foreign entity. The outlet reported last month that Ukraine paid Cohen at least $400,000 to arrange a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in June 2017. (Poroshenko and Cohen have both denied that money was exchanged.)
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